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It is surprising when it happens. An absent owner may be completely unaware that someone lives on his property. When a person lives on the property without the permission of the property owner, it is known as “squatting.” In some cases, squatters have been known to live in vacant houses and buildings for years before being discovered by the landlord. In doing so, they establish a form of ownership over the property. While the true owner of the property can evict the person, evicting squatters requires that they go through legal process. In this article, we will explore squatters, trespassers, and the art of evicting them.
Difference between squatting and piercing
First of all, it is important to understand that squatting and trespassing are not necessarily the same. While trespassing is a criminal offense, trespassing is technically a civil matter. By definition, squatting may not be illegal in your jurisdiction. Additionally, removing an illegal occupant requires the property owner to claim possession and prove ownership. That said, if there are signs of a forced entry (broken windows, locks, etc.), then the squatter is trespassing and the police have the right to remove that person.
When the law works against you
Surprisingly (to the chagrin of thousands of homeowners), evicting squatters can take months. In cases where a squatter has lived on a property for years, it can be nearly impossible to evict them. The law requires the property owner to show proof of ownership. While that may seem like a simple matter at first, the fact that years have passed without a home or building owner noticing the presence of a squatter can make your case less compelling. If a squatter can demonstrate restricted access (for example, locks at the main entrance that only the squatter can open), he or she may be able to demonstrate legal ownership.
The art of evicting trespassers and squatters
First, if you notice squatters or trespassers living on your property, it is recommended that you hire a professional service to evict them. Approaching and dealing with them personally could put you at risk. Also, landlords may not realize that it is possible to violate the legal rights of squatters by breaking in (despite having the actual property).
Then file a claim for your property recovery through the County Court or Superior Court. You should have the guidance of an attorney to ensure that you follow the correct procedure. Once your ownership of the property has been proven, the Court can enforce your order by having the squatters removed.
Take back your property
Finding strangers living on your property without your permission can be an unpleasant surprise. To start the process of evicting squatters and trespassers, hire a professional eviction service. Avoid tackling squatters yourself. Prepare the necessary documentation to prove your ownership of the title. In no time, your property will be safely back in your possession.